Instagram Cannot Beat Them, Joins Them

Instagram introduced some changes to the way its Reels and Remix features work. Among them:

Remix for photos: Photos are core to the Instagram experience. In the coming weeks, you will be able to remix public photos. This gives you limitless inspiration to create your own unique reel.


Since reels offer a more immersive and entertaining way to watch and create videos on Instagram, we’re bringing these creative tools and the full-screen experience to your video posts, too. In the coming weeks, new video posts shorter than 15 minutes will be shared as reels. Videos posted prior to this change will remain as videos and won’t become reels.

I am sure this is market-tested, and I probably have no idea what I am talking about. But it truly feels like Instagram is Gromit laying tracks just ahead of a fast-moving train. Can anyone articulate the company’s plan a few years out? Is lobbying to rid the United States of TikTok its big creative product strategy?

So many of the creative people I know who use Instagram just want the people who follow them to be able to see their work. But their work is increasingly invisible unless it is a video, despite Adam Mosseri’s promise that “photos are so important” and to “[do] right by photos long-term”. Even if it is a video — excuse me, Reel — Instagram’s machinery may deem it unworthy of viewing by your followers.

My account received these updates today, including an always-on dark mode TikTok-like timeline view, and it is discouraging. It feels like Instagram is actively trying to destroy any simplicity it once had by kind of doing a bit of everything — badly. Again, I am certain there are metrics-based reasons for these decisions and I am just out of touch. But it seems like Instagram is constantly playing catch-up to whatever is new and trendy at the expense of anything definitively Instagram’s own.